Salt Lake City, Utah
June 20, 2004
June 20, 2004
June 23, 2004
9.881.1 - 9.881.5
Making Sense of Those Early Required Courses Craig James Gunn Department of Mechanical Engineering Michigan State University East Lansing, MI
Engineering experiences that freshmen and sophomores face in their initial contacts with the university are very similar. Students enroll in physics, math, chemistry, humanities, composition, and social studies. Those subjects seen from the students’ perspective appear to be end alls in themselves with little importance to future classes in the majors. Fe, if any, connections are drawn between these lower tier courses (freshman/sophomore) and the upper level courses (junior/senior.) The general university curriculum requires that this broad range of courses should be completed before a student reaches the junior and senior years, providing a foundation for the work in the major subject. Problems can arise, though, when students enter classes where no attempt is made to draw distinct connections between what is being done in those early courses and the courses that will come in the major field. Students become concerned when they are told that they are to simply learn the material because it is “good for them” or that is “to be learned for its own sake.”
Vast numbers of students move through the university system accomplishing all that is asked of them, graduating with seeming relative ease; but when discussion takes place, one discovers that there are underlying difficulties in the system. Students are quick to comment off the record concerning the difficulty of taking courses that fail to draw connections to either the real world or future courses in their majors. They find them baffling in many respects until someone makes the effort to draw logical connections between those initial courses in the academic system and the later major driven classes.
This paper presents a look at materials collected for lower-tier students by upper-tier students who were interested in providing concrete rationale for the taking of the required lower-level courses. The culmination of the work will be brochures that can be provided to all students interested in engineering concerning the connections between lower-level course and upper-level courses in the major.
Introduction Perhaps one of the most difficult experiences that freshmen and sophomores face in their initial contacts with the university is the issue of connectedness of lower tier courses (freshman/sophomore) with upper level courses (junior/senior.) The general university curriculum requires a broad range of courses that should be completed before a student reaches the junior and senior years. These courses include humanities; composition; social studies; and a complete set of math, physics, and chemistry courses. Problems can arise when students enter “Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2004, American Society for Engineering Education”
Gunn, C. (2004, June), Making Sense Of Those Early Required Courses Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/12739
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